By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Six Israelis have died, and in Gaza, at least 43 Palestinians, including 13 children, were killed since Monday, health authorities said. Nearly 300 people have been wounded, including 86 children and 39 women, officials added.
Among the latest reported fatalities was an Israeli citizen, who was apparently killed when an anti-tank guided missile, fired from the northern Gaza Strip, struck a jeep on the border. Two other people were injured. Separately in the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter were killed early Wednesday when a rocket had landed in the courtyard of their one-story home, reports said. Their car parked outside was wrecked, and the interior of the house was filled with debris. The deceased was reportedly Arab citizens of Israel.
The death toll rise as rockets streamed out of Gaza, and Israel pounded the territory with airstrikes early Wednesday. It is the most severe outbreak of violence since the 50-day devastating conflict in 2014 with no endgame in sight.
The fighting follows weeks of rising tension stoked by violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a site in Jerusalem that is holy to both Muslims and Jews. Palestinian militants have now fired more than 1,000 rockets over 38 hours, Israel said, most at Tel Aviv, its economic capital.
Israeli Arabs have also staged violent protests in several Israeli towns. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the city of Lod, which he visited amid ongoing Arab riots there.
“LOD IN ANARCHY”
“What we have seen here is anarchy. Things that cannot be accepted in any reformed country. Police officers are harmed, cars are set on fire, synagogues are burned. No country can accept this. I am here to ensure that we restore governance,” stressed Netanyahu.
“I have instructed that forces be brought in here and other mixed cities and to grant powers for emergencies – this is a matter of life and death. A curfew should be imposed within the framework of the powers as necessary,” he added.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” by the ongoing violence. The UN’s Middle East peace envoy, Tor Wennesland, said the sides were “escalating towards a full-scale war.” Guterres urged “a redoubling of efforts to restore calm,” but there were no signs that would happen soon.
Early Wednesday, Israel unleashed dozens of airstrikes in the course of a few minutes, targeting police and security installations, witnesses told reporters.
A wall of dark gray smoke rose over Gaza City. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said airstrikes destroyed the central police headquarters in Gaza City, a compound with several buildings.
WORLD CAN MEDIATE?
International diplomats seek to intervene, with Qatar, Egypt, and the United Nations working to deliver a cease-fire.
The U.N. Security Council also planned to hold its second closed emergency meeting in three days Wednesday on the escalating violence.
Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, reportedly said the U.N.’s most powerful body did not issue a statement because of U.S. concerns that it could escalate tensions.
The unrest in Jerusalem has spread across Israel itself, with an outbreak of communal violence in mixed Jewish-Arab communities.
Hamas has called for a full-scale Palestinian intifada or uprising.
The last such uprising also began with violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2000, and lasted more than five years.
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